x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Hamas militants fire rockets at Israel after strikes kill 6

The armed wing of Hamas fired 10 Grad rockets at Israel after three Israeli air strikes killed six Palestinians.

GAZA CITY // The armed wing of Hamas fired 10 Grad rockets at Israel in a rare show of force after three Israeli air strikes killed six Palestinians, Hamas officials said.

The claim came shortly after Israel staged another air raid over Deir Al Balah in central Gaza, injuring two men on a motorcycle, one of them critically, medics said.

Such fire by the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, which generally maintains a tacit truce with Israel, is very rare.

"This is our answer to the Zionist crimes. It will continue if they carry out more strikes on Gaza," a statement said, with a spokesman confirming it was the first time they had fired such longer-range rockets at Israel since April 2011.

The Israeli military confirmed that 11 rockets had hit southern Israel since midnight, but could not say whether all of them were Grads.

Army figures show that since the start of the year, Gaza militants have fired more than 290 rockets into Israel.

Earlier yesterday, the bodies of two Palestinian teenagers were recovered by medics after an early morning air raid, also in Deir Al Balah.

This raised to six the number of Palestinians killed in a series of Israeli strikes since Monday, all carried out just hours after a deadly ambush along Israel's southern border with Egypt.

A shadowy militant group claiming ties to Al Qaeda terror network said it carried out the attack. The group, calling itself the Mujahedeen Shura Council of Jerusalem, made the claim in a video distributed in Gaza yesterday.

Israel has said the sudden spike - three deadly air raids in just over 12 hours - was "in no way related" to the border incident, with the military saying the air force targeted militants planning or engaged in anti-Israeli attacks.

The overnight strike which killed two 17-year-olds took place shortly after midnight but their bodies were only recovered after dawn "when an ambulance could get to the scene", medics said.

They were identified as Mohammed Bassem Abu Mealiq and Yusef Al Talbani. Witnesses said they had been trying to breach the fence bordering Israel when they were hit.

* Agence France-Presse with additional reporting by Associated Press